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  Estonian Journal of Ecology

ISSN 1736-7549 (electronic)   ISSN 1736-602X (print)
An international scientific journal

Formerly: Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Sciences: Biology, Ecology
(ISSN 1406-0914)
Published since 1952

Estonian Journal of Ecology

ISSN 1736-7549 (electronic)   ISSN 1736-602X (print)
An international scientific journal

Formerly: Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Sciences: Biology, Ecology
(ISSN 1406-0914)
Published since 1952

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An Antillean plant of beauty, a French botanist, and a German name: naming plants in the Early Modern Atlantic world; pp. 37–50

(Full article in PDF format) doi: 10.3176/eco.2012.1.05


Laura Hollsten


This paper investigates the naming of plants in the work of the French botanist Charles Plumier (1646–1704). Plumier made three trips to the French Antilles between 1690 and 1697, was appointed royal botanist in 1693, and published his first work, Description des Plantes de l’Amérique, in the same year. Plumier was the first ‘modern’ botanist to describe the flora of the Caribbean in a time when natural history underwent significant qualitative changes as a result of the European expansion and transatlantic contacts. Plumier’s ambition was to replace the confusing multitude of names given to New World plants with a universal taxonomically based nomenclature. His modernity and scientific ethos manifest themselves in his neutral way of organizing the plants according to a taxonomic system and his use of a Latin nomenclature, often naming plants after well-known botanists. Through Plumier’s naming process, I argue, it is possible to highlight the colonial and Atlantic context of his work, his network as part of the scientific elite of his country, and his professionalism resulting from years of botanical studies.


history of botany, early modern natural history, plant nomenclature.


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Current Issue: Vol. 63, Issue 4, 2014

Publishing schedule:
No. 1: 20 March
No. 2: 20 June
No. 3: 20 September
No. 4: 20 December